What I Spent In Linz, Austria (Just kidding.)

I love the “What We Spent” posts that Ali writes when she travels, and I wanted to do one for my side trip to Linz, Austria last month.  Alas, I didn’t track my spending very accurately.    I can tell you that I spent somewhere around sixty euros for all my food in Linz, and I can tell you that I spent €12 on a ticket for an art exhibition, which I will come back to later in this post.  I also spent around ten euros for various public transit needs around the city, €6,30 of which was just for the Pöstlingbergbahn.

It turns out that tracking my spending in such minute detail isn’t really my style, so I’ll leave that to Ali and go back to doing what I do best-  posting waaaaaaaay too many photographs.  Seriously, I came back from a twelve day trip with roughly five hundred photographs, and I did not take a dedicated camera.

While the overall trip ran about twelve days, I was only in Linz for about a day and a a half.  I started off on Tuesday morning from Regensburg, traveling in one of my all-time favorite conveyances, a Deutsche Bahn high speed ICE train.

After I reached Linz, I dropped my bag off at the hotel and set out immediately to start my tourism.  Here’s the highlights of a brief visit to Linz.

The Mariendom. 

Also known as the New Cathedral, this very enormous cathedral is the largest in Austria, although not the tallest.  The style is very similar to the cathedrals in Regensburg and Cologne, although this one only has the one spire.  It was really difficult to get the entire thing into a single photograph.

I took a bunch of pictures inside, but I think this one gives you a sense of the size while also showing you some pretty, pretty stained glass.

Schubert, Kepler, and Mozart all lived here.

While I was in the city, I sought out the listed former homes of Kepler and Mozart.  The Mozarthaus is actually kind of difficult to spot because it’s part local government office (hence the Austria and European Union banners on the building) and part cultural location with shops and restaurants.   The only obvious sign I could find was a bust of Mozart and some commemorative placards just inside that archway.

The Kepler house was much easier to spot-  the sign over the door says that Johannes Kepler lived in this house, and the little one off to the right has a bunch more information.

I didn’t set out to find the Schubert sign on purpose, I just sort of stumbled across this one.  Basically, it indicates that Franz Schubert came here to visit family friend Josef von Spaun.  The bottom floor of this building now holds a Douglas, which is a perfume and cosmetics store.


Höhenrausch is an art exhibit that Linz puts on every summer.  This year, it runs from late May to mid-October.   The theme this year is “The Other Shore,” and everything has to do with water in some form.  There are regular exhibit rooms, but the true delight of Höhenrausch is that it winds its way over the rooftops of the city, through church and building attics, and up a custom-built tower.  This is the flyer they give you at the start, showing you the full path you take for the exhibit.

I paid my twelve euro admission, climbed over the starting barricades seen all the way to the left of this flyer, and moved onward.  On a nice sunny day, the views as you clamber over the rooftops are spectacular.

I’m curious to know whether these walkways stay up year round, or whether they build them anew every year like they do for the decks at Cave of the Winds at Niagara Falls.

After I first emerged on the outdoor portions of this exhibit, I saw the sculture man in the distance.  I didn’t yet realize how large he is.

It had rained before and after my day in Linz, and this was a perfect day for this part of the trip.

As I got closer, I saw just how large the  sculpted man is.  His name is El Pensador, sculpted by Cuban artist K’cho.  He is made from the remains of Cuban fishing boats.

The tower behind El Pensador is called the Oberösterreich-Turm, which just translates to Tower Over Austria, I think.   Regardless, it was tall and I wanted to climb it.  Long time readers know that I always like to climb the tallest thing in any new city I visit-  I get a little bit King Kongy when I travel.  I wasn’t able to climb the spire at Mariendom because that’s only allowed during tours and my visit didn’t coincide with any tours. So, I climbed this instead!

Partway up the sculpture was “The Flying Ship,” said to signify a “new departure.”

Here’s one of the views from about two thirds of the way up the tower, looking toward the top of the Flying Ship sculpture.

Here’s one last look at the Linz skyline from the rooftops of Höhenrausch, before I head back inside.  Nice view of the Mariendom’s spire from here, don’t you think?

I took lots of photos of the art inside of Höhenrausch, but most of those photos were set aside before I started writing this post because I already had more than thirty shots to include.   Besides,  I feel like most of the art in this exhibit loses something in a still photograph.

Even this piece, “Uncertain Journey,” a dense network of woolen threads created by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota, loses a lot of its impact in a single photograph.  Pretty neat though.  I wonder if this was created within the space it currently occupies, or if it was made elsewhere and then installed here.

These pictures are only a fraction of the Höhenrausch exhibit, and if you have a chance to swing by Linz before it closes in mid-October, I highly recommend checking it out.

Hauptplatz and the Trinity Column

Hauptplatz is one of the largest city squares in Europe, and it’s home to the Dreifaltigkeitssäule, or Trinity Column.   The column is a giant Baroque sculpture which was installed in 1723 as a monument to those who had died in plague epidemics.

This building is in the square, and this interesting relief work on the building was directly over a restaurant.  I have no idea what the history is on this, but it looked pretty nifty.

Hauptplatz is also the launching point for this adorable little tour train that goes through the old city, as well as the end point for the Pöstlingbergbahn.

The Pöstlingbergbahn and Pöstlingberg.

Linz has a wonderful system of Straßenbahn (street cars,) but the Pöstlingbergbahn is a special part of the tram network.  The Pöstlingbergbahn is considered the steepest mountain rail in the world.  It was built in 1898 although it has since been modified to use updated rail technology with a more commonly used gauge of track.  To ride the Pöstlingbergbahn up to Pöstlingberg, you will need to pay for a round trip ticket, and then wait-  it comes once every thirty minutes.   The ride is picturesque as you climb the mountain.  The Pöstlingberg stop at the very top is quite pretty for a tram stop.

This is the door to the men’s room at the tram stop.  I just thought this was hilarious and kind of adorable.  And I cracked my head on low hanging stone at least twice trying to get a good photograph.  I feel like this is what it would have been like if Gandalf needed to take a whiz in the Shire.

When you walk out of the tram stop, there’s a sign to let you know that you are at the very border of Linz.

As you walk into Pöstlingberg, you quickly come across an open space that looks over Linz.

Pöstlingberg is high on a hill, on the bank of the Donau (Danube) river.  At 539 meters (1,768 feet,) the view of Linz is pretty great.  This was not the same day as the earlier pictures from Höhenrausch, and you can tell that this was a much more hazy day than in the Höhenrausch shots.

One of the big draws for families in Pöstlingberg is the Grottenbahn, a train ride geared toward small children.    As you approach it, fairytale creatures help to point the way.

I found the entrance to the Grottenbahn, but decided not to ride because there was a pretty large number of small children already waiting to ride and I just didn’t feel like waiting.  I will say that the walkway leading up to it was cooler than the rest of the hilltop by several degrees, and this was a very refreshing place to walk.

The decorations on the entrance walkway give you an idea of what you can expect inside.

Another major point of interest in Pöstlingberg is the Pöstlingbergkirche, a large pilgrimage church built at one of the highest points on the hill.

The walkway leading up to the door of the church has a fenced platform which has begun to collect Europe’s ever-present love locks.

I honestly have run out of things to say about the inside of churches throughout Europe.  They’re all pretty ornate and they’re all very impressive.   And most of the time, the people I find inside them are tourists rather than congregants.

The Ars Electronica Center.

After I rode the Pöstlingbergbahn back down the hill, I got off the tram one stop earlier than Hauptplatz so that I could go to the Ars Electronica Center.  It’s a museum that has exhibits related to technology, and I was curious to spend a few hours checking it out.  I had heard that it was a really cool place to visit.

Unfortunately, it was closed.  I didn’t catch that on their website-  they opened up again about a week after I left.    I got to see the entry vestibule, but that’s about it.  Anyway, the building is right on the bank of the Donau, directly across from Hauptplatz, so I walked back over the river.

Four random pictures that don’t fall into the rest of the narrative for this post.

This street is Landstraße.  I spent a lot of time traversing this street because it was kind of central to everything else I was doing, and it led directly to Hauptplatz.  It was also the path that most of my tram usage required, including going to and from the train station.

I hate a couple of times at Deli-Linz while I was in town, and this was my favorite snack of the visit-  Peanut Butter Bread with bananas and cracked cocoa beans.  With a Fritz-Kola.  Sehr lecker.

Last, but certainly not least, I saw a great many interesting vehicles during my visit.  This brightly colored Vespa was just too cute.

Have you ever been to Linz?


The Untersberg

Sixteen kilometers (ten miles) south of Salzburg is a mountain called the Untersberg.  From the city center, bus line 25 will take you all the way to the cable car station at the base of the mountain.


The cable car that runs up the Untersberg is called the Untersbergbahn.  Naturally.


Some examples of the cables in use for cable cars.


Today’s weather on the Untersberg.   From top to bottom, it’s “sun, bright, cloudy/overcast, rain, fog, snowfall, light wind, strong wind.”  I should have known before I went up that nebel meant fog…


The height of things. The cable car covers 2.5 Kilometers across ground, and brings you to a station at 1,776 meters up the mountain.


This is what the cables look like from the station at the base.


Because of the fog, it looked like it was just sort of going up into nothingness.


The mountain looked fascinating from the cable car- at least the bits I could see before we ducked into the fog and cloud cover.

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…and this was the view from the top.


Seriously, there could have been an alien civilization just past that low rise, and I would never have seen it.  I did catch this picture just as the snowball thrown by man-in-red hit man-in-grey.  Snowballs in late May when it’s raining on the ground are kind of comical, but that’s mountains for you.


I’m sure on a clear day, this is a beautiful place to have a drink.  The bus stop sign (the H in the circle) cracks me up.


And finally, the view back down the mountain, looking out from where the cable car leaves the station at the top.  This builds confidence, wouldn’t you say?


Have you ever been up to the top of a mountain? How was the view?

Mozart’s Balls Are Delicious

So far in the crazy travel-heavy month of May, I’d already visited Venice, Rome, Vatican City, and Dublin.  For my last trick in May, I also spent a couple of days in Salzburg.  I took hundreds of pictures, of course, and I’ve whittled this post down to thirty-eight images that tell the story of my weekend.

Before I get into the pictures, though, I wanted to say this:  My first few hours in Salzburg made me despise the city.    After I got to the hotel and had a brief nap, I felt a lot better and I started to really enjoy things.  Those first few hours were really shaky though, and here’s why:

The public transportation didn’t work.  The city’s famed bus system seemed to be using the posted schedule as a vague suggestion rather than an actual schedule.  The city also has a very small underground train system which didn’t appear to be running at all.  One of the bus lines I tried to use seemed to have a “next bus” time that was about eight hours in the future.  There were no easily readable line maps, so when I did try a bus, I wound up in a part of the city that I was unfamiliar with, and I never reached anything even remotely recognizable.  I found out later that a lot of this is because there were major streets closed for some sort of vintage car rally.  I eventually snagged another bus back to the Hauptbahnhof, and just took a taxi to my hotel.

My hotel was amusing to me.  It had upside-down cows painted in the room.  The lamp said “Moo!”  (Although it said it in German.)  And in between the thermostat and the slot for your room card, there was an inspirational message.  I’m not sure if there was beer hidden in my room.  If there was, I never spotted it.


After I checked in and had a brief nap, I felt much better.  I went out to try to grab the bus into the heart of the city for my first evening in Salzburg, and I wound up waiting another 45 minutes for the bus that was supposed to be there in five.  I did eventually make it to the old part of town though:


While walking through the town, I spotted this sign.  It made me giggle because I am apparently eight years old.


Giant statue of Mozart?  Check. This must be Salzburg!


While I was waiting for my dinner to start on that first evening, I saw some people coming out of a church with cameras.  I’m always curious about what other people find interesting, so I ducked inside.  I’m glad I did; this is what I saw inside of St. Peter’s.


I don’t normally do this sort of thing, but I made a donation and lit one of these remembrance candles.  Something about this church moved me to do so.  Perhaps it was because of all the musical history in Salzburg.  I’m not sure.  People who have known me for a long time can probably guess who I was thinking about when I lit the candle.


After I spent a little bit of time in the church, it was time for dinner.  As a treat for myself, I booked a seat at the Mozart Dinner Concert in the Barocksaal, the wonderful baroque room of Stiftskeller St. Peter, which is the oldest restaurant in Europe.  It’s referenced in a document from the year 803, which is kind of staggering to think about.  This is what the Baroquehall looks like:


The Mozart dinner concert is this:  Drinks and bread rolls, followed by music.  Then a soup course, then a second set of music.  Then a main dinner course, and a third and final set of  music.  Finally, a dessert course.  The photo below was my program, both musically and food-wise.  The food was amazing.


The performers were talented, personable, and quite funny.  This was a wonderful way to course-correct after the public transportation cock-ups earlier in the day.  By the end of the evening, even though  I still had to wait for the bus back to my hotel, I was feeling much better about Salzburg.


For day two, I started with a nice walking tour of the city.  This is the part at which I mention that it was raining the entire time I was in Salzburg.  The entire time.  From my arrival to my departure, it never stopped.  Not once.  It did get lighter at times though, and it was a little bit lighter during the walking tour.

Part of the tour was in the gardens at Schloss Mirabell, Mirabell Palace.  If you’ve ever seen The Sound Of Music, then these shots will look a little bit familiar.  Julie Andrews and the kids went through here during the “Do Re Mi” bit.

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The guy in the hat was our tour guide.  He was very good.  And yeah, it was an umbrella-laden tour.  Lots of rain.


I should mention that the “I Heart London” umbrella I bought last summer finally bit the dust on this trip, and I replaced it with an appropriately musical Salzburg umbrella.


Seen on the walking tour: The house that Mozart lived in.  I came back to this later.


The house where Christian Doppler was born.  I think of him every time I hear “Sailing” by Christopher Cross.   He’s a one-man Doppler Effect demonstration.


Another nice view of the old city.


So I’d never heard of Urban Knitting before this trip.  Apparently, there’s a lot of people who go around knitting hats and whatnot for statues.  I’m not at all sure how I feel about this hobby.  It’s strangely entertaining, though.


There’s a fun (but completely fictional) story behind the “Stierwascher” image below.  I’ll borrow text from visit-salzburg.net to tell the story, because they can tell it way better than I can.

During the period of the peasant′s riots of 1525, the city of Salzburg was under a siege. Soon the city′s population was running short of food, and fear spread when only a single bull was left within the mighty city walls.

Then the commander of the defending troops is said to have had an idea: he ordered to paint the naturally brown bull with white stain and lead it up and down the city walls on display to the enemy. The next day, they would wash the bull, paint it in black and do the same thing again. The next day, they would paint the bull red, then spotted, and so on.

In the end, the enemy thought that the people of Salzburg were slaughtering a bull every day, expecting that the live stocks were still large enough to feed the troops and people in the city for a very long time. Eventually, the troops that kept Salzburg under siege withdrew, leaving Salzburg to freedom. Under cheer and laughter, the bull was led to the Salzach river and washed until he appeared again in his natural brown. Ever since then, people from Salzburg are called “Stierwascher” – bull washers.

In fact, bull-shitters would be more appropriate with respect to this story. The whole legend is nothing but fiction, the real reason for the name “Stierwascher” are the butchers of Salzburg that were committed to slaughter bulls in public spaces to allow the authorities to control the quality of the meat. The slaughtering was done by the shore of the Salzach River to allow the blood being washed off quick and easily. This is the less romantic, but apparently more authentic root of the “Stierwascher”.


This is a view down the Getreidegasse, a popular shopping street.  The close up shot is the detail on the classiest McDonald’s sign I’ve ever seen.  McDonald’s was not allowed to put up their traditional supertacky sign here-  they had to adjust their sign to conform with the rules of Getreidegasse.

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Mozart’s birth house.  A museum and gift shop.  Kind of interesting, if you’re into musical history.


The walking tour went through a very populated old cemetery near St. Peter’s, and I took a few shots of interesting headstones while we were inside.  I think these two shots came out particularly well.

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It’s Europe, so of course there are giant cathedrals.


…and big courtyards.  The tower in this shot is full of carillon bells that ring three times a day.  I was never close enough to hear them at any of those times.  Oh well.


The walking tour concluded back at Mozartplatz.  My earlier shot didn’t really give you a good sense of just how big Amadeus is here.  Both literally and figuratively.


Street musicians.  Street musicians in costume.  I didn’t stop long, but they sounded good.


This cool statue is in the alcove behind where the last group of guys was singing.  The graffiti on the wall behind the statue totally makes it, don’t you think?


I know this is random, but I passed a snack shop at one point, and I have to say that this is perhaps the creepiest advertising image I have ever seen.  It’s all kinky and weird with his four-fingered hands and weird stripey knee socks.


Not far from the creepy hot dog figure is a funicular that will take you up to Hohensalzburg Castle.  We have already established in this blog that I like high places, so of course I’m going to go up.  You can get there on foot- it’s about a 25 minute climb- but it was rainy and wet, so I elected for the funicular instead.

A quick Salzburg travel tip-  I paid for the Salzburg Card on this trip.  Not only does it give you entrance to a lot of the museums in the city, but it also includes unlimited bus usage for your stay, as well as a ride on the funicular up to this awesome view:

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The Salzburg Card also included entrance to the Salzburger Spielzeug Museum.  I can’t pass up a Toy Museum!  We’ve already established that I’m basically eight years old.

There’s one small problem, though.  The toy museum won’t allow you to go through in your normal street shoes.  You have two choices.  Option one:  You can use some of the communal Crocs in the lobby.  While these are slightly more stylish than most Crocs, I have sworn never to wear Crocs.


Option two is to put these little plastic booties over your shoes and just wear them around the museum.  While this looks infinitely sillier, the choice was a no-brainer.  Besides, now I have something to put over my bicycle seat when it’s wet.

salzburg-33 The toy museum was indeed full of toys.  There was a rather fantastic race car track, for example.


This was the find that got me the most excited.  It was in a section of the museum where very small toys were suspended in clear cylinders and there were magnifying glasses nearby to look at the detail.

I didn’t need the magnifying glass though.  I’d know this car anywhere, because I used to play with one just like it when I was a kid.  This is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and the slip of red plastic along the running board is a fold out plastic wing.  There’s a matching wing on the other side.  One of my siblings had this Matchbox flying car when I was a kid, and I remember it like it was yesterday.


Last but not least, I have two pictures from Mozart’s residence house.  The first picture is of some of his musical instruments.  I took this right before a woman told me I wasn’t allowed to take pictures.  I’m a rebel!


Just before you leave the museum (and exit through a gift shop, naturally,) there’s a place where you can “Mozart yourself.”  I thought this was too fantastically silly not to share.


Other than the umbrella, there was one other thing that I brought back with me from Salzburg, and it’s what I was talking about in the title of this post-  Mozart Balls.  Mozartkugeln, actually.  Words cannot describe how delicious this candy is.  I’m glad I only got a very small box of them.

Have you ever been to Salzburg?  What was your favorite part?  Did you take the “Sound Of Music” tour that seems to annoy the locals quite a bit?

Short Trip To Vienna

I went to Vienna for several days. For once, I wasn’t there to attend a concert. Instead, I was there to help Jenny with her competition in the Vienna Photomarathon. The Photomarathon was only one day long, however, so we had plenty of time to do some sightseeing.  Here’s a couple of things I really liked in Vienna.

Spanische Hofreitschule – The world famous Vienna Spanish Riding School, where the Lippizaner stallions have been trained since the main riding hall was built in 1729.  I took these photographs roughly ninety seconds before I found out that photraphy is strictly forbidden in the riding hall.  Oops!

Zentralfriedhof – This is Vienna’s Central Cemetery, established in 1863.  This cemetary is enormous- 2.4 square kilometers in size. It’s so large that it has three separate gates.  It’s so sprawling that there is a separate city bus line that runs entirely inside the cemetery!

There are many notable interments here-  I found the graves of Beethoven, Strauss, and Brahms, but I did not see the grave of Antonio Salieri or Falco.

The Wiener Riesenrad- The Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel, located in the Prater, is a 212 foot tall ferris wheel which was originally built in 1897.  The Riesenrad originally had 30 gondolas before the bombing during World War II destroyed most of them. It was rebuilt with only fifteen, and has become a very well known landmark, even appearing in a James Bond movie in the late 1980s.

Shmetterlinghaus-  Compared to Butterfly World in South Florida, Vienna’s Schmetterlinghaus is tiny, but it was still nice. This attraction is located just a few minutes walk from the State Opera Theatre.

Statues, Statues, Statues! While in Vienna, we saw statues of Mozart, Goethe, Gutenberg, and countless others.  Here’s two of my favorites.

For the rest of these pictures, I’ve decided to try a WordPress gallery-  if you click on any of the images, it will bring it up larger with some additional commentary, and then you can scroll through the rest of the gallery with your right and left arrows.  (Escape key to get back out of the gallery.) Ain’t technology grand?